Excellent Educator: Chelsea Heights Elementary’s Laura Erickson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – They say the ultimate compliments are from your peers. For a teacher, they’re even better from someone with years of experience in the classroom.

One retired teacher wanted to let WCCO know about Mrs. Laura Erickson at Chelsea Heights Elementary in St. Paul.

“She’s very caring, very innovative,” Cherie Frarseth, a volunteer in Erickson’s classroom, said. “Just enthusiastic and stands out from what you usually find in a public school.”

The innovation she’s talking about has 2nd graders practicing mindfulness.

It’s making a difference in how they focus, and that is what makes Erickson an Excellent Educator.

Erickson has a special place in her heart for 2nd graders.

“They’re fun, they’re smart, they learn every day,” she said.

They’re also full of energy. But she’s found a way to get them focused. For a few minutes every day, the seven-year-olds tune out the world and be in the present.

Erickson is a believer in practicing mindfulness.

“We work on calming ourselves and focusing. We do mindfulness of listening, mindfulness of breathing,” she said. “We get our bodies under control and know how to self-regulate ourselves all day, even when we’re excited or mad.”

Immediately after, it’s clear the students are ready to learn.

“Our hearts were probably racing a little bit, now they’re a little bit calmer,” she told the class.

How they learn is partly her innovation too.

“We have cushion seats, regular seating and we have standing. Each month they get to vote on where they think they’ll learn best,” she said. “Not everybody learns the same. It’s kind of a new thing in education so I thought I’d give it a try and its going very well.”

Twenty-four years into her teaching career, Erickson has a passion for trying new things, not only expanding her students’ boundaries but her own.

“It keeps me energized, it keeps me thinking,” Erickson said.

More from Kim Johnson
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